Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Uncle Brooks' letter

James Brooks Wasden as a young man. I think that all of you might have in your archives a copy of this letter that Brooks wrote to Dad and Elna on May 9, 1987, but I was re-reading it this morning, and wanted to copy part of it into the blog, since the story it tells is so interesting.
Elna had sent Brooks a copy of an obituary for a man named Horace Albright, and this was his response. "How thoughtful that you would enclose his obituary. Yes, I knew him and darn near attached a little worship to the man. If I calculate rightly, I was 17 years older then, and he had been Park Superintendent for a year. (Park, being Yellowstone Park). He was promoting the need for improved roads for the sure-to-come automobile traffic - which Father hated to see come, but had to bow to "Progress". Father felt that this was the sure sign of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse rampaging throughout the world, desecrating and destroying all that is good and beautiful. How near his summary of such things proved true may not be as debatable now as then, but it was the increased activity in road building that gave Father the opportunity to return to living in the Gardens of the only remaining Eden on earth and feel the limitless wonder of it all. I can still see him wake up in the morning, go outside the tent, pause long enough to stand erect, raise his chin to bring into focus the heights of the mountain's about our camp, and inhale the sublime joy of privilege to live and feel and listen to the solitude his whole person could encompass.
Mr. Debs and his brother helped me trail our eight horses from Penrose to the Park. We drove "4" on a wagon loaded with grain and hay, and our bedroll plus cooking needs. The other "4" trailed along behind. We made it to Cody the first day and camped at the bridge which crossed over to the railroad station. This was the farthest I had been from home and the only time I had seen the Shoshone River with the city of Cody and its adjacent interests. We rolled out on beds and slept on the ground. Think of doing that now.
Early the next morning we were on our way. The only way to travel was the little thin line along the north side of the canyon you can see as you travel the present highway. Mr. Debs drove the team - thank goodness - because I was so totally enthralled with what my eyes were seeing. At first it appeared like a solid wall of stone and mountain blocked our way, but as each step forward of the teams revealed a widening crack - maybe, just maybe we might get through and not have to climb over the top. It was like the jaws of a huge gate slid noiselessly apart to let us through and then closed just as noiselessly behind us locking us in for keeps.
An automobile from Texas caught up with us. At the first chance we pulled our wagon into a side gap to let them pass. As they pulled up to do so, the trail horse at the rear jumped out and her hind leg hit the fender. They stopped all right. The poor lady was terrified. This was before the days of glassed-in windows and doors - just canvass "pin-ons". To the lady it appeared the horse was intending to get in and ride! Seemed there was a difference of opinions. I hopped down, went back and shooed the horse back into line. But the lady's terror increased; "We didn't mean to do it - We didn't mean to do it," she babbled hysterically. Her hands were quivering before her face and her eyes were so pleading - like she expected to be scalped and thrown into the gorge below. That's when I learned I had charm! I rebuked the horse, smiled at the lady, told her we were sorry. Her expression changed like sunshine bursting from behind a cloud. "You see, Henry, they are not mean; they will not hurt us." Such assurance! And they drove on.
(to be continued)


Ann said...

How I wish Grandpa had written about his experiences in the Park. We should have talked more with him and written down his stories. Isn't hindsight annoying! This letter is priceless.

Elizabeth said...

There is a journal - think it is in the Sorensen family. Wouldn't it be interesting to read it?